In the age of hoaxes, fake news, and accusations rampant throughout both the digital space and the real world intertwined, it seems more important than ever to have reliable sources of information and be able to share this with other people in your community. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways you can avoid dupes out there and highlight legitimate sources.
Some of the steps you can take to protect yourself and others are these:
Know official channels, especially for local media.
Being aware of reputable local media sources can be helpful, especially since these will likely have the most relevant information for things in your vicinity. Whether it’s by paper, television, or digital media, make sure you know what outlets are known to cater to your area and provide up-to-date and trustworthy news and data. It can sometimes help to start with a search of what you’re looking for online, then honing in on your location. For instance, finding journal news for New Rochelle would be easy to find with the right keywords.
Not only are local outlets great to support much like any other business in the community, but it is also an accessible information point that you can refer even to less tech-savvy people in the area.
Try to avoid memes and viral posts without sources.
Even though memes can be fun and a lot of viral posts are often about adorable animals or dance challenges, there are a plethora of memes and trending topics hinged on fake news. Too often, people are quick to share something, regardless of their political or moral leaning, without having double-checked the post’s credibility. When you’re browsing on social media, be mindful before you click and see if what you’re seeing is the truth.
Even experts on psychology have noted the dangers of memes spreading falsities that people take at face value, primarily because of phenomena like the “truthiness effect.” It uses fake quotes associated with pictures to let people automatically associate the two together and assume their truthfulness. On the other hand, the “illusory truth” effect uses repetition (by way of sharing and reposting these days) to instill belief.
Be mindful of links and timestamps.
Read links carefully as many parody sites and fake news outlets litter the Internet, and without a watchful eye, these small links could get past you. On top of that, a lot of pages and individuals repost articles from years back, often inciting or reigniting arguments that take away from more current events and situations. Sometimes, that is even used as a distracting tactic. Simply check the date on things to see if you’re reading relevant updates and be wary of sketchy links.
It may also be wise to use website checkers to ensure that you are not falling into a trap with one of over 1.4 million phishing websites created by scammers to attain your sensitive data and personal information.
Misinformation is one of the most harmful things to creep across society. It’s essential to remain vigilant these days and prevent any malicious content and unauthorized access.